Healthy Nutrition and Food Stocking Basics for Beginners

c/o: US Department of Agriculture

“Healthy” is a tricky term because most everything these days seems to be tilted that direction in some way. If you’re not a nutritionist, or a fitness fanatic, it’s hard to know where to begin and what to buy. Keeping your kitchen healthy doesn’t have to be so hard. Start with some simple basics from the lists we’ve put together for you below. Having these items in your food pantry will help tremendously towards well balanced meals and well balanced health.

Fat, oil and sweets, when chosen well, can lead to a healthy heart. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered good fats. Saturated and trans fats are considered bad fats. Watch for those terms on labels. Keep limitations on things like butter, cheese and ice cream. Replace butter with vegetable oils and red meat with fish or white meat poultry. Utilize this category sparingly in your diet. In other words: don’t overindulge. For more in depth information on which fats are good and which are bad, click here.

  • Avocado
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • Olive, sunflower, soy oil
  • Flaxseed
  • Hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds
  • Olives

Protein fills you up without filling up your whole plate. keep your energy high throughout the day by adding protein sources to your snacks and meals. These are some easy things you can stock up on. To learn more about how protein affects your diet, click here.

  • Seafood – tuna and especially salmon, which provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
  • White-meat poultry
  • Eggs
  • Kidney, white, black beans, chickpeas – great to add to salads, rice or as a side dish. They contain fiber as well, so they’ll keep you full!
  • Meal replacement drinks/energy bars – get your protein in on a tight timeline
  • Yogurt/Milk/Cheese – keep small amounts of these handy to add to meals and recipes to get your calcium intake and add some flavor!

Fruits and vegetables provide a good punch of vitamins and minerals throughout your day. When you’re picking what to stock up on, think whole, raw and dark. Canned, syrupy options are filled with sugars and contain very little health benefit. Picking up whole fruits and veggies give you the best nutrients. Dark, leafy vegetables should be a staple in your diet a few times a week. If you’re a vegetarian, these can be substituted for meat as well. And, be careful how much oil, butter or dressings you use on them. For more about fruits and veggies, or some yummy recipes, click here.

  • Pomegranate
  • Legumes
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Asparagus
  • Bell peppers
  • Sweet potato
  • Broccoli
  • Mango
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Carrots
  • Berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, goji berries)

Carbs can be beneficial if eaten in the right amount. They provide your body with fuel to burn through throughout the day. You will want to have a good stock of whole grains to choose from. Keep bread to a minimum and use fruits, vegetables and proteins to add flavor versus sauces, toppings and dips. For more information about what carbs can do for your body, click here.

  • Quinoa
  • Steel cut oats
  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole wheat couscous
  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice

Next time you hit the grocery store, think whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Stick to the outside aisles except for beans, peanut butter and meal replacements like protein drinks or bars. Stay away from fruit juices, canned fruits and vegetables and packaged items. When you hit the kitchen, fill up your belly on more protein than carbs. Use seeds, nuts, bean salads and fruits/veggies for snacks.

What fills your kitchen now? If you threw out all that wasn’t on this list – what would be left?

Part III: All Calories Were NOT Created Equal

Weight Loss Unmasked: A five part series looking deeper at why we struggle with losing weight

Photo c/o: dailyfood

By Briana Boehmer

We’ve all heard it, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. I spent nearly 2 years researching and working on energy metabolism post college and sure enough, fundamentally a calorie no matter how you cut it is a calorie. A calorie is a measure of energy derived from food. However, it’s important to look at the big picture…it’s just not that simple! When it comes to weight loss and how your body processes energy in relation to your daily needs the SOURCE of your calories can make a difference.

There is still a lot of research to be done on low-carb, low-fat, and every other form of diet combination out there. Researchers are working hard daily to unravel the mysteries around how we gain and lose weight. Yet let’s not forget a very important concept: Too much of ANYTHING can have serious health implications (yes, there can be too much of a good thing). Your body needs each of the three macronutrients – carbohydrates, fat and protein for a reason. Hence you need to carefully consider your PERSONAL needs for each when looking at your daily nutrition.

It is my contention that we are certainly not undernourished in this country, but we are MALNOURISHED. Simply put, we don’t get all of the essential nutrients we need to truly fuel our body to optimal health. Think of it this way, if you ate chocolate all day and made sure it was just the “right” amount to meet your needs would that be healthy? Of course not, you would be missing so much nutrition from your diet…so in this case a calorie is not a calorie in that they are not all created equal!

Ok, so now you’re asking how do I find and eat the BEST calories and lose weight? That is the million dollar question. You have your own unique needs, so again make sure you focus on your body. However, when starting to change your diet for the better determine how well you are supplying your body with the following:

  • Fiber: Instrumental in digestive health, fiber is not able to be completely digested by your body and hence has shown positive results in relation to weight loss. Fiber tends to have a satiating effect and helps regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Protein: Beyond the obvious nutritional value of protein for your body, it also is the most satiating of the three macronutrients.
  • Fruits and Veggies: When I have my clients log their food I am always shocked at how low fruit and veggie consumption tends to be. I have had many people say they are getting in “plenty” of these two vital food groups, yet when the rubber hits the road they are severely lacking. Start simple and journal your fruit and veggie consumption…I bet you’ll be surprised at what you find.

I have one final task for you – Take the time to journal your food in 411Fit.com for TWO weekdays and ONE weekend.  In my next blog I will have you assign nutritional “values” to the food you consumed so that you can see first-hand the impact of the calories you are eating!

Want to know more? Check out the first two parts of this blog series, Part I: You Have To EAT To Lose Weight and Part 2:Food Journaling Matters A LOT.

We All Start Somewhere With Weight Loss. Don’t Hide Yourself.

By: Guest Blogger Jessica Barczewski

Who am I? What a question. This little question keeps popping up along with “What do I want?” and “Who do I want to be?” The truth is, as it is for all of us, these are not questions that I have thought much about and instead try to avoid because of fear of the answer. So let me just start from the beginning.

All of my life, I can remember that I was big. Maybe not always overweight, but my feet, for example, were too big for the box on my birth certificate. I never wore newborn size shoes, and by the time I started school I wore a shoe size bigger than my mom. By the time I entered school, my dad could no longer carry me on his shoulders and my mom could not bounce me on her knee. Before I entered middle school, I was already wearing plus size women’s clothes. But I never saw it. Oh sure I saw a stomach and a double chin, but in pictures of myself I never saw myself as being overweight. I just saw a cute child smiling back; I do have a great smile by the way. But I never took notice of how dangerous life was getting with an overweight body. As I grew up, the teasing was merciless. In eighth grade, I got my first pair of glasses and I felt that they had become my very own invisibility cloak. I could hide behind those lenses and the hurtful words people would say to me could not penetrate those glasses. I wore them proudly and I have never stopped wearing glasses since. Unfortunately, the glasses did more than just protect me. They also helped to isolate me. A disturbing trend among the overweight/obese population is isolation and loneliness. Somehow, we all feel that we are not worthy of being happy and being loved so we retreat into ourselves and deprive the world from knowing how great and special we are.

Three years ago, I developed a terrible pain in my lower back. I could not bend over, stand, or do housework (darn) without my back being in a horrible pain. I was scared the day I went for a walk with my family and couldn’t even walk more than ten feet without my back suddenly starting to hurt. It was on that day that I decided something had to be done. While I was thinking about chiropractors and doctors for my back, a tiny voice in the back of my mind said “Why don’t you try to lose some weight first?”

I had never thought about losing weight. I never cared about the opinion of others because I believed that what mattered was how I saw myself. I realized that I am the one who spends every minute with this brain, heart, and body and I needed to like, and possibly love, myself. I also knew that I did not want to be one of a million other women who hate the way they look. I never liked the word “diet” because to me that was an evil word that said you hate your body. I don’t hate myself. So I refused to diet and exercise because I felt these two things went hand and hand with an evil mixed up world. I felt that loving me meant giving in to everything I wanted and never saying no.

I did get exercise. I have burned through more walking shoes than exercise clothes. I have my most creative thoughts when I am out for a stroll around the neighborhood. So this was the only form of exercise I got and it was enough to keep me at 30 pounds overweight all through high school. In college, I ate poorly. I was a poor college kid, and I would eat pre-packaged meals and fast food and never once did a fruit or vegetable enter my system. And once I got out of college, the cycle continued.

So two years ago, I was tipping the scales at 278 pounds. 100 pounds more than what I weighed in high school and over 130 pounds of what my healthy weight should be. But I was not discouraged when I saw that number. I took that number as my starting point feeling that we all have to start somewhere. To date, I have lost 60 pounds and I have learned so much more about myself. There are things I am doing today that I would have never thought I could ever do. I feel like I have strength and the courage to tackle anything that may have seemed scary years ago. I refuse to hide behind my invisibility cloak and instead I greet every day with the knowledge that I can be better and do better today than yesterday. This has been my journey and it is nowhere near the finish line. I have seen a few finish lines since I took up running last summer, and one day I hope to cross my own. But this is just me and my discovery of who I am, what I want, and who I want to be.

Finding Community Contributes to Achieving Weight Loss Goals

By: Guest Blogger Laura Kinart

Hello everyone!!!!  Who is Laura Kinart?  Great question, sometimes I still don’t know  =)

I am a 32 year old mom of two and wife to one.  I was an athlete growing up; I danced, played soccer and also played softball.  I was always pretty thin and healthy at a weight of 125-135 throughout my high school years.  Then I went to college, and decided I didn’t want to play sports anymore and I stopped taking dance classes as well.  But I still wanted to be thin, so instead of eating healthy and going to the free gym that UW-Parkside had right there in my dorm, I started to follow some unhealthy diets.  My junior year in college I began the year being pretty much anorexic, I lost a lot of weight and went from a size 8 to a size 4 because I basically didn’t eat.  I didn’t want to “work” at losing weight so I just decided not to intake any calories.  At my sisters college graduation my mom took me aside and told me I was too thin (because while a size 4 might look great on some women, it made me look sick).  From that point on I knew I needed to eat.

But instead of adapting to a healthy lifestyle yet again, I just thought I needed to eat.  I was terrified to look sick again, so I ate, and ate…and ate.  In the period of about 3 years I went from 140lbs to 230lbs.  Then from 2007-2009 I had two babies and went up to my highest weight of 264, wearing a size 20 that was really too tight because I just wouldn’t buy a size 22.  I lived at that weight and size for about a year.

Then in 2010, I saw a picture of myself.  I was sitting there at 264lbs and felt horrible!  So I started working out and I was doing interval classes 2-3 times a week for about six months, but only lost 5lbs during that time.  That is when I realized that my problem was not burning the calories off….but bringing them in.  I wasn’t realizing how many calories I was really eating and why.

In August of 2010, I started working with a Personal Trainer and he had me doing some amazing workouts and watching what I was eating.  And then while I was running up a hill, I rolled my ankle and re-tore a ligament in it. I had lost 25lbs in two months and after I was injured, I gained 5lbs back.

In December 2010, I realized that if I didn’t figure out why I was the weight I was, I was going to die before I turned 60.  I wouldn’t be a grandma, or a great-grandma, heck I might even miss my kids’ weddings or college graduations. That was NOT okay with me. 

So I sat down and talked it out with myself, my husband and my sister.  I was completely honest with not only my family, but more importantly….myself.   That is when I realized that I have an addiction to food.  I love it too much!  I rely on it to help me when I am having a bad day…or a good day.  I use it in my life in so many more ways than just nutrition and that is when I decided I needed to tackle my addiction.  Watching shows on TV about drug addiction, I realized that the way I felt about food was the same way those people felt about cocaine or heroin; and it honestly scared me.

So I knew I needed to do something, and the only thing that I could think of was Weight Watchers.  I didn’t want a plan or diet that gave me the food to eat, because that wasn’t going to teach me a darn thing.  And on 1/11/11, with my sister as my partner, I started weight watchers to help me focus on the food and it has taught me so many things! I started 2011 in a XXL and finished in a medium!  I started 2011 at 244lbs (after losing 20lbs) and am now 189lbs!

I realized that this is going to take some time, I still have 50lbs I would like to lose this year, and that I need to be happy with each station in the process.  Am I at goal yet?  NO, but I am at a size I haven’t been in since 2004!!!!  I have to realize that the process will work if I am honest with myself, and that it isn’t a week to week process, it is much more than that.  And if I have a bad week, or even two in a row, if my average is still a loss, then I am still moving in the right direction. What I learned is that I need to forgive myself if I do indulge in something!  Because I cannot and will not be perfect 100% of the time, and that is okay!!!

This is a struggle, and it is a lifetime process.  But instead of looking at it as a burden, I’ve started looking at it as a blessing, because now I can help people who are in a similar place to where I was just last year.  And that is why I came to 411Fit.  I know I can be a part of a community of people working toward the same goals.  I am here to share my journey with you and hopefully you will share your journey with me.  Just like all the amazing tools within 411Fit to help you track and hold you accountable to your personal goals and progress, I can be a tool to help motivate you to keep it up!

Ready to start your journey with 411Fit? Register today!

Part I: You Have To EAT To Lose Weight

Weight Loss Unmasked: A five part series looking deeper at why we struggle with losing weight

By: Briana Boehmer

Photo c/o: Britt Selvitelle

Naturally when I hear most people talk about losing weight the word diet is mentioned in one way or another. Diet by definition assumes restriction of food in some form, which often leads to unfortunate behaviors – namely, not eating sufficient calories and more importantly the nutrients your body needs.

I am forever perplexed over why we work against our body’s natural biology.

Here’s a hard fact: Our body is built to SURVIVE. At the most fundamental level your body does what it does to SURVIVE. Bottom line, there comes a point where the fewer calories you take in the fewer calories your body burns. This is your body’s basic response to survival…in other words; it doesn’t want to starve so it will run on less energy to make the most of the calories it does get. This WILL happen when you hit that “danger point” for YOUR body.

This fact has been studied and studied. In fact, you may have already experienced this phenomena: You’ve been cutting your calorie intake by 500 calories a day so that you lose 1 pound per week (500 calories/day x 7 days = 3,500 calories =1 pound) and at first it worked like a charm but suddenly you hit a plateau and the weight loss is less and less each week. Frustrating isn’t it? The simple and hard fact is, your body is just not built to follow such a simple equation. There are so many more variables to consider.

Bottom line – You have to EAT to lose weight safely and effectively. Not too much and not too little…confusing right? Weight loss is a tricky equation but ultimately there is no magic pill or extreme diet that can replace simple healthy eating at regular intervals that corresponds directly with your personal needs. Because all calories are not created equal (an issue I will discuss in the next part of this series), it is critical that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to do basal metabolic tasks. Add in exercise and personal physiological circumstances and there certainly is a lot to think about. Yes, what AND how much you eat aren’t the only factors!

Current research is telling us the best way to keep the body in an optimal state of metabolic bliss is to eat smaller more frequent “meals” throughout the day. There is research to suggest that even small calorie deficits within a single day may alter our metabolism in ways that have negative effects. While the ultimate goal is for the body to burn stored energy, we have to always keep in mind the fact that we don’t want it to enter starvation mode either.

So now you’re wondering how to strike the perfect balance between calorie consumption and energy expenditure aren’t you? Great! Check back next week for my next installment looking deeper into how to set proper weight loss in motion.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a way to track, check out our nutrition journal at 411.com.

Read Part 2: Food Journaling Matters a LOT by clicking here.

A Year From Now You’ll Wish You Had Started Today



By: Guest Blogger Mary Moran

I’m thrilled to have been asked to join 411fit.com‘s bloggers and I look forward to helping motivate and inspire YOU because I know that you will do the same for ME!  Together, we can do this! And I can GUARANTEE you that no matter how much you have to lose – whether it’s 10 lbs or 110 lbs – if you start to make small changes in your life today, you’ll be SO glad you did!  Just imagine where YOU could be in just one year from now!

July 2008

For almost my entire adolescent and adult life, I’ve begun each new year saying “I want to lose weight.” I’d try for a month or two but then get frustrated with the process when the weight didn’t come off fast enough, thinking, “This isn’t working!”  I’d end up disappointed with myself, feeling as though I failed…yet again. What I know now, but failed to realize at the time, is that the only “failure” was having given up!  Weight loss is not a race and EVERY ounce lost was a step in the right direction!

I began the journey to re-claim myself in 2009 when I declared it to be “The Year of Me!”  I finally sought help for the extreme upper back pain I’d been dealing with for four years after it had gotten so bad that I was having visions of a wheelchair in my not-so-distant future. I was given a diagnosis of Myofascial Pain Syndrome, which is a chronic condition that affects the fascia (the connective tissue covering the muscles) and to help alleviate the pain, I was told I needed to strengthen and stretch my muscles.  Apparently the years of general inactivity and sitting at a desk job had caused weakness.  But deep down I knew what nobody – not even my doctor or physical therapist – was willing to come right out and say… that being 100+ lbs overweight was not helping me.  
In fact, it was hurting me – literally!

August 2010

I started to workout sporadically on my own and then signed up for my (former) company’s wellness plan with Salus, Inc. in Delafield, WI, run by 411fit.com’s own Briana and Michael Boehmer.  I was pushed beyond belief, gained confidence in my abilities and became extremely strong in a relatively short amount of time!  I felt better than ever but despite working out intensely 4-6 days/week, I’d only managed to lose 12 lbs during 2010. It was a loss, but come on…a ONE pound per month average?  With as much as I was working out, it should have been coming off MUCH faster.  Michael and I joked around a lot but during one discussion about my food journaling (or lack thereof), he looked at me and calmly said, “You know what you need to do.”  I knew I was standing in my own way.

January 2011 – 55 lbs lost!

Two months later, after a long discussion with my sister, Laura, we decided that we would begin Weight Watchers together.  We were both ready to make changes in our lives and that meant getting the food under control.  We went to our first meeting on January 11, 2011 and it was one of the best things that we’ve both ever done for ourselves!  My average loss has been slow but I have learned many things about myself along the way. I have been extremely reflective during my journey and I am focusing on finding balance and making true changes in my life that will not only help me get to my goal, but ensure that I stay there once I do! Am I glad I started a year ago?  Absolutely!  
Just look at the difference!

Like you, I am going through this journey right now.  I’m well acquainted with the negative self-talk, the embarrassment and the excuses that come with being overweight.  I have lived with the doubt, the struggles and the damage it does to your confidence and self-esteem on a daily basis.  I’ve heard the whispers and the assumptions of laziness or “simple” lack of willpower.  Oh if it were only that simple, right?!  I’ve had to listen to well-meaning people who’ve never had a weight problem lecture me on how I should go about losing my weight.

But, more importantly, I know what it feels like to start to believe in yourself again and I know what it feels like to have had that “click” in your brain that says “I AM worth it!” and “I don’t belong in this body any more!”  I also understand how important it is to have the support of someone (or thousands of others!) going through the same thing and/or with someone who believes in you…even when you don’t.

So if you’ve been on the fence…or you need a gentle push back into action, go to www.411Fit.com today and register. It’s free for individuals. Start today!

If you’re a trainer or a health coach, 411Fit just launched a new coaching dashboard to help you track your clients more easily and with greater interaction. The best part? They’re offering 45 days free! Click here to learn more or sign up today!

411Fit Member Blog: The Start of My Transformation

By: Denise Simpson

In August of 2010 I stepped on a scale and was blown away because it said I was 491 pounds. All I thought was, ‘I weigh almost 500 pounds.’ So I made up in my mind that it was time for me to do something about my weight.  I started “watching” what I ate. In my mind, I wanted to lose weight but little did I know that I was starting a journey called  “transformation.”

My name is Denise and I am 40 years old. I am a social worker and therefore, since I can remember, I have always been a “help” to others. When I got on that scale, I realized that I had to help myself.  I am happy to report that I currently weigh 382. As I reflect back on the transformation journey thus far, many thoughts come to mind.

First, it has not been easy.
Every day, I wake up and know that there are certain things that I cannot do and certain things that I must do. Eating right and exercising are two things that I must do. What I cannot do is get discouraged. My biggest struggle has been exercising. Growing up I played soccer, but then I switched to playing instruments. So exercising was not something that I made a point to do. However, today I can say that I look forward to my workouts. As recently as last week, I actually had to reframe my mind. Instead of being concerned with how long my workout is, I just work out. This reframing has helped me tremendously because I was consumed with making it to 45 minutes or 60 minutes of exercise. Ironically, now that I am focused on just working out and moving, I’m hitting those times more easily.

Second, who you have on your team of support is critical because let’s face it, we all need support.
Your team may start off small, but one person can be that lifeline that keeps you in the race. I have found that my team is not made up of the people I originally thought it would be.  Without my team to share and talk with, I don’t know what I would do. I stumbled upon the 411fit website literally by accident, but I know it was on purpose. I love it and I am still getting used to logging my day.  Being able to see what I have done and the progress I have made is very beneficial. I also enjoy blogging because it is a level of accountability. I like to encourage others who are also on this journey.

Third, a person has to realize their self-worth.
This has been very eye opening for me. I was clearly wearing a mask for years. After taking off my mask and looking at my issues, I am happy to report, my masks have all been thrown away.

I will be blogging weekly for 411Fit as I continue to use the site to help with my weight loss goals so that you may follow me on my transformation.  I welcome your support and feedback!

(411Fit Note: Denise is a tremendous motivation within the 411Fit community and we are glad she found us!  She interacts with members regularly through our member blogs and member forums as she continues her journey.)